Happy Teacher: The job review site for teachers

Posted on 20th June 2016 by Joe
graphic banner showing a school with clouds on a purple background

We’re incredibly excited to announce the launch of Happy Teacher, a job review website for teachers, by teachers.  It is where all teachers in England will be able to tell at a glance how a school compares to others – not on exam results, or Ofsted inspections, but on what it’s actually like to be a teacher there.

What is Happy Teacher?

Imagine a site where you can search for any school in England to see whether the teachers’ overall experience of the school is a positive one.  You can see its average scores for atmosphere, workload, support in managing behaviour, and effective leadership.  You can read dozens of insiders’ opinions of what it’s like from teachers who work there every day.  You can compare it to your current school or schools in its local area.

This is what we are building.  And we need your reviews!

What now?

We have just entered beta testing, inviting teachers at schools across the country to complete anonymous reviews of what it’s like to work there.  It takes most teachers around 5 minutes.

So, what is it like to teach at your school?

Why is Happy Teacher being developed?

Our goals are simple: to empower you with more information in your job hunts, and to provide real incentive to school leaders to prioritise your wellbeing.

In a sense, ‘teacher voice’ is already everywhere, and louder than ever. Education columns of newspapers are spilling over with teachers decrying the toxic levels of stress and dissatisfaction within the profession.  Facebook feeds are deluged with “I quit teaching, and this is why…” letters and videos.  The DfE itself even took in over 21, 000 emails from teachers as part of its ‘Workload Challenge’.

Lots of the voices are loud, and lots are unhappy, but there is very little order to it.  It’s like a poorly managed classroom where every pupil blurts out their response at once, and nobody is heard.  What’s more, the negative voices seem to drown out all others, even when we know that many of you are positive about teaching and proud of your school.

What we are making is something systematic.  So that teacher voice can come through loud, clear, and constructive.

The idea of something like Happy Teacher started with this article I wrote for the TES (writing under the pseudonym ‘Zeph Auerbach’).  I was overwhelmed by the support this proposal received – from teachers, union reps, headteachers, and even those not involved with education at all.

Who is behind Happy Teacher?

There are two of us behind Happy Teacher.  We’re not making this site at the request of the DfE or headteachers.  We’re doing it off our own backs, and doing it for teachers.

I’m Joe Gordon, a full-time maths teacher at a secondary grammar school in London.  I’ve been teaching for 8 years and have been increasingly concerned with the national problem we have with teacher wellbeing.

The technical magic of the site is the work of John Wyles, who runs the digital agency FourStacks.  John discussed my TES article with the many teachers in his family and  thought it sounded like an intriguing project.  He called me to arrange a drink in Battersea, and we soon got to work!

We both already have full-time jobs.  The work we put into Happy Teacher in our euphemistically named ‘spare time’ is fuelled by the passion we both have for the project. And it’s made possible by the support/tolerance we get from our amazing partners.

What next?

If you think Happy Teacher is a good idea, please share this blog with as many teachers as possible.  The more reviews that are written, the better the information we can provide.

Then head over to the main Happy Teacher site to review your school.

This site is in beta testing, meaning we’re still fine-tuning its features and we want to hear your views on how we’re doing – whether positive or negative, big or small.  Just email us at hello@happyteacher.org and we’ll get right back to you.